Sulawesi sweet potato fritters

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes 20 small fritters (serves



Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

In Sulawesi these are known as tai kuda, literally ‘horse shit’. I assure you this doesn’t do justice to the crisp battered coating, silky sweet potato filling and the treacly heart of molten palm sugar. Sweet potatoes in Indonesia come with orange, white or purple flesh, so you can choose the colour to suit your mood. I like to add cinnamon and nutmeg for a warm spiciness, but I have been told in no uncertain terms this is not authentic (with the concession it is a rather tasty addition). Leave out the spices if you’d prefer.


  • 250 g (9 oz) sweet potato, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 50 g ( cup) dark palm sugar (gula jawa)
  • 30 g (scant ¼ cup) rice flour
  • 50 g ( cup) plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 100 ml (scant ½ cup) ice-cold water
  • oil, for frying


Boil the sweet potato until tender and mash. Add the spices and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

If you have palm sugar in a block, cut into small chunks to fill the fritters. Otherwise you can fill with small spoonfuls of ground sugar.

Take portions of the sweet potato mash in the palm of your hand, set a chunk of palm sugar on top and wrap the mash around to form a neat ball. Repeat, using up all the ingredients.

Mix the two flours together with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. Just before you start frying, whisk in the ice-cold water to make a batter. It should have a gluey consistency, running easily off the spoon but leaving a good coating behind. Adjust with more flour or water if necessary.

Heat 2 cm (¾ inch) oil in a small frying pan until it is hot enough to bubble around the handle of a wooden spoon. Working quickly, dunk half the balls into the batter to coat, then transfer to the hot oil. I like to use my hands to dip and drop them in the pan one by one, but do be extra careful if you are doing it this way.

Fry until golden brown, then remove to paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Repeat with the second batch. The fritters will crisp as they cool.